The mystery magnified for Dr. Gavreau and his team, when they tried to measure the sound intensity and pitch. Failing to register any acoustic readings at all, the team doubted the assessment of the building engineers. Nevertheless, closing the windows blocked the sense of nausea. In a step of brilliant scientific reasoning, Gavreau and his colleagues realized that the sound with which they were dealing was so low in pitch that it could not register on any available microphonic detector. The data was costly to the crew.
They could not pursue the “search” for long time periods. During the very course of tracking the sound down, an accidental direct exposure rendered them all extremely ill for hours. When finally measured, it was found that a low intensity pitch of a fundamental 7 cycles per second was being produced. Furthermore, this infrasonic pitch was not one of great intensity either. It became obvious that the slow vibrating motor was activating an infrasonic resonant mode in the large concrete duct. Operating as the vibrating “tongue” of an immense “organ pipe”, the rattling motor produced nauseating infrasound. Coupled with the rest of the concrete building, a cavernous industrial enclosure, the vibrating air column formed a bizarre infrasonic “amplifier”.
Knowledge of this infrasonic configuration also explained why shutting the windows was mildly effective in “blocking the malady”. The windows altered the total resonant profile of the building, shifting the infrasonic pitch and intensity. Since this time, others have noted the personally damaging effects of such infrasonic generation in office buildings and industrial facilities. The nauseating effects of exposure to a low intensity natural or manmade infrasonic source is now well appreciated.
It has become a routine architectural procedure to seek out and alter any possible such resonant cavities. The sources often appear in older buildings, the result of construction rendered faulty by previous lack of this knowledge. All such “improper” architectural formats are modified by the additions of sound-blocking materials.
Dr. Gavreau and his research team now carefully investigated the effects of their “infrasonic organ” at various intensity levels and pitch. Changing the spring tension on shock mounts which held the fan motor, it was possible to change the pitch. Various infrasonic resonances were established throughout the large research building. Shutting the windows blocked most of the symptoms. When the window was again opened, however weak as the source was made, the team felt the nauseating effects once again.
In the business of military research, Dr. Gavreau believed he had discovered a new and previously “unknown weapon” in these infrasounds. Aware of the natural explosives by which infrasonics are generated, Dr. Gavreau began to speculate on the application of infrasonics as a defense initiative. The haphazard explosive effects of natural infrasound in thunderclaps were quite effective in demonstrating what an artificial “thunder-maker” could do. But, how could a thunderclap be artificially generated in a compact system? These thoughts stimulated theoretical discussions on the possibility of producing coherent infrasound: an infrasonic “laser”.
The first devices Dr. Gavreau implemented were designed to imitate the “accident” which first made his research group aware of infrasonics. They designed real organ pipes of exceedingly great width and length. The first of these was six feet in diameter and seventy five feet long. These designs were tested outdoors, securely propped against protective sound-absorbent walls. The investigators stood at a great distance. Two forms of these infrasonic organ pipes were built. The first utilized a drive piston which pulsed the pipe output. The second utilized compressed air in a more conventional manner.
The main resonant frequency of these pipes occurred in the “range of death”, found to lie between three and seven cycles per second. These sounds could not be humanly heard, a distinct advantage for a defense system. The effects were felt however. The symptoms come on rapidly and unexpectedly, though the pipes were operating for a few seconds. Their pressure waves impacted against the entire body in a terrible and inescapable grip. The grip was a pressure which came in on one from all sides simultaneously, an envelope of death.
Next came the pain, dull infrasonic pressure against the eyes and ears. Then came a frightening manifestation on the material supports of the device itself. With sustained operation of the pipe, a sudden rumble rocked the area, nearly destroying the test building. Every pillar and joint of the massive structure bolted and moved. One of the technicians managed to ignore the pain enough to shut down the power supply.
These experiments with infrasonics were as dangerous as those early investigations of nuclear energy. Dr. Gavreau and his associates were dangerously ill for nearly a day after these preliminary tests. These maladies were sustained for hours after the device was turned off. Infrasonic assaults on the body are the more lethal because they come with dreadful silence. The eyesight of Dr. Gavreau and his fellow workers were affected for days. More dangerously were their internal organs affected: the heart, lungs, stomach, intestinal cavity were filled with continual painful spasms for an equal time period.
Musculature convulses, torques, and tears were the symptoms of infrasonic exposure. All the resonant body cavities absorbed the self-destructive acoustic energy, and would have been torn apart had the power not been extinguished at that precise moment. The effectiveness of infrasound as a defense weapon of frightening power having been demonstrated “to satisfaction”, more questions were asked. After this dreadful accident, approaching the equipment once again was almost a fearful exercise. How powerful could the output of an infrasonic device be raised before even the operating engineers were affected?
With greatest caution and respect for the power with which they worked, Dr. Gavreau began recalculating all of his design parameters. He had grossly misjudged the power released by the pipes. He had, in fact, greatly lowered those calculated outputs for diagnostic purposes. Never had he imagined that these figures were actually far too great in the world of infrasound!
Empirical data being the only way to determine how infrasonic energy correlated with both biological and material effect, the tests were again attempted with a miniature power supply. First, the dimensions of these devices had to be greatly reduced. Their extreme length was objectionable. In order to provide absolutely safe control of the deadly blasts, several emergency cutoff switches were provided. These responded to the radiated infrasonic pressure wave. the intensity could be absolutely limited by use of automated barometric switches.
- ELECTRIC FLYING MACHINES: Thomas Townsend Brown
- THE FUSOR REACTOR: Philo Farnsworth